Deivydas Zigelis, a 39-year-old Lithuanian, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter of Alexander Karpovs, aged 26, by a jury in June this year.
Mr Karpovs, who was originally from Latvia, died of a single stab wound to the heart at his home on Spa Street in Portarlington on February 15, 2014.
Sentencing Zigelis to seven years at the Central Criminal Court, with the final two years suspended, Mr Justice Paul Butler said that when a “human being is stabbed to death in such circumstances that the charge should be murder”.
However, the judge acknowledged that the manslaughter conviction had been the correct one as the crime was “clearly not a premeditated killing”.
During the trial, jurors were shown photographs taken inside the house that the dead man and his killer shared.
The images showed the floors had been littered with debris, broken crockery, drink cans, and empty cigarette boxes.
Describing Zigelis as a “functioning alcoholic”, Mr Justice Butler said the killing “took place in a hovel”.
The judge added that the defendant “appears to be decent person” who has vowed never to touch alcohol again and has “shown genuine remorse”.
At a previous hearing, the Central Criminal Court heard how Zigelis told gardaí “I killed my friend. I am a bad man” shortly after his arrest.
During that hearing last month, Mr Justice Butler was told Zigelis had, in Portarlington Garda Station hours after the fatal attack, admitted to the killing.
Garda Ann Deegan agreed with prosecuting counsel, Shane Costelloe SC, that Mr Karpovs, and Zigelis, along with another man, had been drinking heavily in the house prior to a row between the accused and the deceased which ended when the accused “punched” the victim in the heart with a steak knife.
Garda Deegan also agreed that the other man in the house at the time later told gardaí he only realised that Mr Karpovs had been stabbed when a puddle of blood began forming beneath the body and his face began to turn blue.
It was at this point, the court was told, that the defendant phoned the emergency services.
When gardaí arrived at the scene, Mr Karpovs was already dead. An autopsy revealed the victim had died as a result of blood loss.
The court was also told the third man was so drunk he made comments to gardaí at the scene that suggested he had been responsible for the death. But Zigelis later admitted to officers that he had been the “wielder of the knife” used in the attack.
A victim impact statement from the dead man’s mother, who lives in Latvia, was also read out in court.
The woman said her son had been supporting her financially and that his death had “taken away her only hope”. She added that, as a result of the killing, she had been left feeling “stressed out all the time” and that she could not sleep.
Conor Devally SC, counsel for the defence, told the court his client had regretted his actions and was remorseful.
Mr Devally added: “Mr Zigelis does not want to colour what happened in any way. He acknowledges that this was a dreadful event and an unfulfilled life was lost.”